After a successful five-year ‘Services Agreement’ between rights management organisations, the Copyright Agency and Viscopy, the two organisations have agreed in principle to begin the formal arrangements to merge.

Between them, the two organisations represent some 43,000 members, ranging from visual artists and illustrators to journalists, cartoonists, surveyors, educational authors and publishers.

Viscopy Chair, Tim Denny, says, “Since operating under the Services Agreement, licensing revenue to Viscopy’s visual artist members has increased by 10%.

“The proposed merger is a very positive move which will deliver further benefits to our members and partners through reduced administration fees, more seamless operations and greater support for Australian creatives and culture. The Viscopy Board will be unanimously recommending to its members that they vote in favour of this positive step.”

Under the proposed merger Copyright Agency will create a new class of membership, ‘visual artist’, for Viscopy’s approximately 13,000 Australian and New Zealand visual arts members. Those members will be able to elect a new Visual Arts Director to the Copyright Agency Board.

The merger would take place by way of a Scheme of Arrangement which requires approval by the Supreme Court, the corporate regulator ASIC and the membership itself. If successful, Viscopy members will automatically become members of Copyright Agency.

Chair of the Copyright Agency, Kim Williams, said “The rights to fair payment for the work of visual artists and all creators are under challenge as never before so it’s vitally important their voice is given due prominence in copyright policy discussions and, more importantly, in defence of copyright. We will ensure this advocacy continues energetically, as we will aim to deliver more revenue to Australian and New Zealand artists through consolidation of operations and reduced costs.”